Now that the Dallas Mavericks are at home watching the rest of the NBA playoffs, there have been reports circulating that the team is unsure of the tandem of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. According to these rumors, Porzingis is unhappy with his role on the team and with how Doncic dominates the ball.
Their struggles together were apparent in the seven-game series loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Doncic averaged 35.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 10.3 assists, while Porzingis averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. Regulated to three-point line half of the time, he shot a dismal 29.6% from three-point range.
This is not the type of production you would expect when you are paying Porzingis close to $30 million per season. With a looming contract extension on the horizon for Doncic, there are some tough decisions that the Mavericks brass will need to make.
May it be trading or through free agency, the Mavericks will need to seriously consider if the duo of Doncic and Porzingis can work after their second straight year of losing in the first round. When looking at potential candidates, we narrowed it down to five candidates that would not be a good fit, as well as five candidates who would be a good fit.
5 Superstars That Wouldn’t Be A Good Fit
5. Stephen Curry
Curry likes to be the main focus on offense. Doncic needs someone that will move without the ball. Asking Curry for ball movement would not be a good fit. In Golden State, Curry is essentially the core of their offense, and rightfully so after securing his second career NBA scoring title.
Besides, the system of Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are very seasoned. Once Thompson comes back, the Warriors’ offense of old should be back to normal, so moving Curry is essentially impossible.
4. Damian Lillard
Lillard is a pure shooter and a ball-dominant player of his own. After Portland lost in the first round of the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years, it led to the “mutually parting of ways” between the team and nine-year head coach Terry Stotts.
Nobody questions that Lillard is one of the best players in the league. However, we are beginning to wonder if Lillard is a player that can be paired with to win a championship. If things don’t change in Dallas, these same questions could arise in Dallas.
3. Kevin Durant
Durant is somewhere in the middle between ball-dominant and not. He has shown that he can share touches with both Kyrie Irving and James Harden. In the end, Durant is the player that takes the last shot in crunch time.
In 2012, when the Thunder made the NBA Finals, that was Durant’s team, not Harden’s. That is the same with the Brooklyn Nets, something Irving also understands. With Doncic only 22 years old, he still has time to prove he can be “the man.” For now, if Durant were to join him, it would force Doncic to play in his shadow.
2. LeBron James
This would be a terrible matchup. Doncic led the league in offensive usage this past season. Doncic is used 36% of the time on offense, which comes off a season where he was used 36.8% of the time in 2020.
While these numbers may suggest that the Mavericks may need to change their offense, LeBron is equally used as much. LeBron was used 31.9% of the time with the Lakers. There would not be enough touches for each player on the court at the same time.
1. James Harden
During the 2018-2019 season, Harden was used in the Rockets offense 40.8% of the time. Harden and Doncic would be a nightmare at the same time. They are the same player and their team would not be competitive.
Take a look at the Washington Wizards with Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. Both are ball-dominant players that rack up individual stats. What did that get them this year? A first-round playoff exit. Doncic has been there, done that in two straight years.
5 Superstars That Would Be A Perfect Fit
5. Joel Embiid
Embiid demands the ball, but maybe that is a good thing? Porzingis is a lot more passive than Embiid and he does not demand a presence in the post. Embiid has proven to be a solid inside-outside threat, which stretches the floor.
By stretching the floor, Doncic could penetrate with more space, draw defenders, and find an open shooter that could make one more pass to Embiid. Instead of the defense expecting Porzingis to float on the three-point line, it would force opposing defenses to be on their toes.
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis provides defense, but one of the better pick and roll options in the league. Porzingis did not warm up to the idea of the pick and roll option. He is not as strong and physical to pull this type of offense off, which is why he typically floated on the wing waiting for a pass.
This matchup would potentially be the best pick-and-roll offense in the entire league. Doncic would have the option for himself but also the easy give and go. Not to mention, this rebounding tandem would be hard to keep off the glass.
3. Anthony Davis
While this matchup is unlikely in the next couple of years, it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be a great fit. Davis is a great defender, strong rebounder like Doncic, but also could provide a pick-and-roll option.
Davis is the better overall offensive player in comparison to Giannis, which is why he is ranked higher. Both are respectable defensively as Davis was the runner-up to Giannis in the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year rankings.
2. Kawhi Leonard
Imagine the combination of these two. This would have a feel of vintage Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. That tandem made Oklahoma City Thunder one of the best teams in the league, finishing as high as a No. 1 seed, and making an NBA Finals appearance in 2012.
Leonard has a player’s option at the end of the season. If he doesn’t pick it up, the Mavericks will be one of his many suitors in the league. Offensively, defensively, and culture-wise, Leonard would make Dallas a top-2 team in the West.
1. Nikola Jokic
This would be the best duo in the league since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. For starters, the numbers, style, and grit that Doncic displays at just 22 years old remind the old-timers of Bryant in the late 90s and early 2000s. Doncic can do just about everything Bryant could do at a young age, if not better.
Jokic may not be as strong of a rebounder as Shaq, but he is a better passer and finisher. Jokic is the best passing center in the league and could make a case for being a top-10 overall passer in the league. The combined production from these two would be close to 50 points, 17 rebounds, and 14 assists each night.
In the end, the combination of Doncic and Jokic would bring title aspirations to whatever city they reside in. It could be Denver or Dallas. If these two ever teamed up, the chances of an NBA championship would be high.
Bryant and Shaq won three straight championships together. How many could these two win together?